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Bradley
bradley

I got this truck in a trade for a 1996 Toyota Camry back around August 2013. When I got the truck, I thought its only issues were a little bit of rust and a brake adjustment. I soon found out it needed the front brakes completely redone (calipers and discs), the frame was nearly rusted out, and that the tires were the best thing on the truck. I'm sorry to say I got really angry at the guy whom I traded with. I told him about every fault (not many to note) with the car and feel like he wasn't up-front and honest with me. Honestly though I'm as much at fault as he. I didn't take it for a thorough test drive (I had my mom with me to do the driving as at the time I didn't know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle), I didn't ask good questions, and I didn't slide up underneath the truck - which is easy to do as you can tell from the photo above - and look for myself. In all honesty, I got taken in by my own desire to have a truck at all costs. Well, nearly $800 in parts and labor later, I know better, but I'm also much happier. After all, the guy really did need a family vehicle having a wife and three kids and I did need a truck and I couldn't have gotten a better one if I had tried.

You see, Toyota is legendary for it's vehicles, in my opinion. Engines running 150,000 miles plus (in one of the forums I'm involved in, I've seen guys claim 300k with only one engine rebuild in between, some at 250k with no rebuild). Also, any fan of the British television show Top Gear (don't bother with the American derivative, it isn't worth the effort put into it) should know, they are indestructible. It just happens to be this one needed just a little tender loving care to bring it back to life and keep it running for another 25 years or more. Ease of maintenance for the do-it-yourself mechanic, long life, fuel efficient, and most of all, fun to drive. To borrow a phrase, in my opinion Toyota very well may be the best vehicle manufacturer, in the world. Yes, I can say I love my truck (and yes, I did name it Bradley). As a matter of fact, I'm so enamoured with it that I don't think I will go back to driving cars on a regular basis ever again. I've been bitten by the truck bug and I may never go back.

Well, enough hyperbole and gushing over my truck, on to the repair operation.
 
When I got the truck, as I stated above, I was told about the brakes and the rust. My mom and I discovered the brakes were definitely worse then expected, so the first thing I had done was the front brakes. My mechanic discovered that the calipers were completely frozen and were probably providing no braking power. Most of the discs were worn away. I still have some slight issues with braking so the next on my list of repairs (after the current round is done) is the master cylinder and brake booster. I'm going to do both myself and only call in a mechanic when truly needed. After the brakes, I needed a water pump, as the bearing went out on the one on the truck. Easy enough replacement and nothing else was noted. I began saving up to do what I call a tune-up. Spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor rotor, distributor cap, oil and oil filter. By the time I got around to doing that, I had other issues crop up. Based on the recommendation of my mechanic, I replaced the ignition coil (I still have the old one and will be testing it to make sure it is bad before chucking it, otherwise I'll keep it as a spare). It didn't solve the issue I was having and it was quickly making the truck undriveable. The timing was checked and discovered to be way, way off so the next thing to be done was replacing the whole timing chain assembly (chain, sprockets, and guards). After a slight mishap and another chain of that whole kit, I was still having the same problems so I had the fuel filter replaced on recommendation and - while the old one was piled up with gunk - it didn't solve the problem, it only seemed to exacerbate it. I tested the throttle position sensor and found it to be lacking so I have ordered it's replacement and will also be replacing the fuel pump (also on mechanic recommendation). After this round of repair, I will - as stated earlier - be doing as much of my own repairs as possible. I can't afford to pay someone to track these problems down for me. Of course I feel like the only thing left to do is an engine rebuild as I don't know the mileage because the speedometer and odometer do not work and haven't since I received the vehicle. If I do the engine rebuild, I'll repair those at that time, too. Until then I can use my portable GPS to monitor my speed. I've decided to fix the speedometer/odometer before then, since it sounds like a simple enough item to get at.

If you would like to follow along as I work on making general repairs and do standard maintenance, you can go visit my forum thread on YotaTech entitled "The Repair Saga of 'Bradley'".

Following is everything said above, plus planned on work and possible modifications.
 

This is my To Do list.
 

These are some mods I'm thinking of doing, depending on feasibility, condition of truck, and cost.
 

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